Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 9, 2012.
Good morning. It’s wonderful to be here to celebrate the strong ties between Brazil and the United States, and to talk, starting this morning and going through the day, about how we can strengthen and deepen those ties.
I want to thank Tom Donohue and the extraordinary staff of the chamber for the work that you do every day, and in particular, for your commitment to this relationship. You know, as does our government, that it is one of the most consequential relationships for the 21stcentury. And I want to welcome my friend and colleague, the foreign minister of Brazil. It’s a great pleasure to work with Antonio on a broad range of issues, but none more important than our commitment to seeking out new, creative, enduring ways to really bind the peoples of our two countries together.
I am delighted that we also have this visit of President Rousseff here today, because when I think about the extraordinary leadership she is providing to Brazil, it makes eminent sense that she would be leading the way for Brazil and the United States’ relationship, along with President Obama, to find those lasting ties and illustrate in a very public, visible way how important they are.
Everyone knows we are the two largest and most diverse democracies, the two largest economies, in our hemisphere. But what may not be known is that the United States and Brazil, because we are democracies, have a special obligation to stand for our values. It is, of course, important that we promote our economic ties, that we try in every way possible to raise the standard of living of our two peoples, but we do so within a strong framework of commitment to democratic values. And we increasingly have a responsibility to work together on behalf of those values. The policies we embrace and the investments that we make will shape our shared future, and we are developing strong habits of partnership and cooperation. And that is not, as you know so well, a job solely for governments. In fact, it is actually more the job for the private sectors, our universities, our civil societies, our citizens. And therefore, we need to draw on all sources of our respective national strengths to build this partnership for the future. And I look out at this audience, and I see many Americans whom I know well who are deeply committed to doing just that.
Now, the fact that this meeting is here at the chamber points to the importance of our economic ties. We see in Brazil an inspiring success story: a dynamic economy that has lifted millions of people into the middle class; a country that is helping to fuel the global economy; that produces everything from commodities, of course, but also aerospace technologies, whose goods and services are facing increasing demand across the globe.
And as the United States works to increase our own competitiveness, create jobs here in our country, we look to our neighbors. The proximity that we have here in the Western Hemisphere to some of the fastest growing economies and some of the most vibrant democracies is a great strength for us all. And we seek to be a partner, an equal partner, to promote sustainable, diversified, innovation-driven growth that translates into inclusive, long-lasting progress. We want, together, Brazil and the United States, to work toward creating economic opportunity, a system in which everyone has a fair chance to compete.
Now, as I look at what we’ve already committed to doing together, we see those ties in action. The Brazilian company that buys materials and components from the U.S. and the American company that opens a factory in Brazil, many businesses have already discovered how much we have to offer each other. And as our economic relationship continues maturing, investment will increase in both directions, trade will grow and diversify, more businesses from both Brazil and the United States will find markets in the other country. I know this is a priority for both of our presidents, and I particularly applaud President Rousseff’s commitment, her historic pledge to end extreme poverty in her country.
Now, later today, the foreign minister and I will sign the U.S.-Brazil Aviation Partnership Memorandum, which builds on our Open Skies Agreement and will promote more and safer air travel between our countries. We think that’s a win-win. It will promote not only our aviation industries and business travel, but also more tourism and exchanges.
And the United States will be opening two new consulates in Brazil. Some of you know that we’ve been working very hard at the State Department to meet the demand in two countries – Brazil and China – that has far exceeded our capacity up until now. And we’ve made a lot of progress, and the opening of these two consulates – one in Belo Horizonte and one in Porto Alegre – keeps up with our expanding relationship. We’re trying to make it easier to get those visas, easier to travel, knock down some of the barriers that have been put up, and continue to promote people-to-people contact.
But we know that the progress we wish to make is not going to be measured alone by flight traffic or trade or investment figures, or even by visas. We have to have more cooperation and partnership between and among our universities, our science and tech sectors, our civil societies. Now, Brazil knows how important it is for a nation to invest in its people, and starting in the ‘90s, when I was privileged to travel to Brazil, I have followed with great interest the innovative social programs serving Brazil’s children. This tradition of innovation of conditional cash transfers and other investments in the human beings of Brazil is paying off. You can see the results. It’s not only fueled the rapid expansion of Brazil’s middle class, but it has demonstrated that an economy growing is not an end in itself; it is a means to improving the lives of the people of a country, and Brazil is a model for that.
So now we want to do more to innovate together, and our two presidents have launched path-breaking initiatives. President Rousseff’s Science without Borders program will send 100,000 Brazilian students to the world’s top universities to study science, technology, energy, and math – engineering and math, the stem subjects. And we’ve already welcomed 700 of those Brazilian students to the United States. We expect thousands more in the next few years. And the State Department is working with our extensive contacts in our higher education community to pave the way. We know that the students who are here today are studying at universities in 42 states, and many of their educational programs are supported by the private sectors from both of our countries. This program is an excellent complement to President Obama’s educational initiative, which is called 100,000 Strong in the Americas. Our goal is to increase the numbers of Latin American and Caribbean students in the United States to 100,000 each year, and we want to send 100,000 American students to the region over the next 10 years as well.
I personally believe that having more interaction between our young people, going north to south, east to west within our hemisphere is one of the keys to that shared future. Educational exchange programs like these will help us prepare the workforce to give our students the skills, experiences, and relationships that a global economy requires.
Consider the Brazilian company Tecsis, which makes the blades used in wind turbines. It happens to be one of the largest blade manufacturers in the world, founded by three Brazilian engineers. Now, all of them attended ITA, a top Brazilian technical institute that was created with strong support from MIT, and one of the company founders also studied at Harvard. And I’m delighted that President Roussef will be going to both MIT and Harvard tomorrow.
Well today, Tecsis is a leader in the U.S. market. It exports more than half its blades to the United States. Eighty percent of the raw material it uses to make the blades actually comes from the United States. One of its top customers is GE. And a partnership between the two companies has helped GE become a top wind energy equipment provider in the United States.
So in addition to employing more than 5,000 people in Brazil, Tecsis has created a subsidiary company in Houston which employs more than 150 workers to repair and maintain the blades used in the United States. This kind of partnership – call it cross-pollination, if you will – is increasingly achievable, and we want to see more of this.
The foreign minister and I were talking earlier before we came in that our values, our common commitment to democracy, to human rights, to freedom, to the full potential of every individual, is such an advantage in the world today. And there is tremendous untapped potential in both of our countries. We’ve only begun to explore how we can work and prosper together.
So I urge all of you here for today’s conference to identify concrete ways for collaboration in business and education, energy, and any other critical field. And the foreign minister and I will do the same here in Washington and then when I travel to Brazil next week, where we will convene the next meeting of the U.S.-Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue.
Now, when we look at the rise of powers around the world, the story of Brazil stands out. Yes, it is becoming one of the largest economies in the world; it’s already one of the largest democracies. It increasingly has an impact on global stability and security. We face complex challenges in our region and beyond, and Brazil is a responsible actor. Our countries have to be partners. We want to be. But even in today’s world, that want is matched by need. Because whether we’re taking advantage of shared opportunities or facing shared threats, we have to do all we can to work effectively together.
And I am confident that this relationship will serve to stabilize our hemisphere, our economies, but even reach far beyond. Because what we want to see is the progress in Brazil that has been so laudable over the last several decades continue and grow from strength to strength. And we want to see the United States, with our great, diverse, pluralistic population, being the kind of model inspiration that we have historically been over our own history.
As today’s conference makes clear, the work between the two countries is well underway. And I want to commit this government and our country to the peace, prosperity, and progress that will, I am sure, ensue because we will build an even stronger relationship for years to come.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)